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Software development is presently in a crisis. As tool chains continue to evolve, developers are expected to build increasingly complex software systems. Yet, creative and breakthrough applications often only arise from the combination of computing resources from multiple, conflicting domains. A new approach is needed to allow teams of designers—some software engineers, others subject matter experts—to combine their expertise in the design of products based on large, heterogeneous software systems.

This course will encourage students (computer science and other disciplines) to think and work creatively in creating radical products. The definition of radical is operational. The main goal is to have students gain knowledge, insight and expertise in the radical development process for new objects.

The course has the following main five sections:

  • Intro to design and the creative process. In the first 5 weeks of the course, we will have weekly readings, assignments, and class discussions about creativity (e.g., why are artists creative? is brainstorming is a great way to generate useful ideas?), the management of creativity and groups (e.g., how to handle gender issues, an overwhelming boss), and introduce new ones (e.g., IDEO's design approach and DeBono's Six Thinking Hats management system). Assignments will include for example reviewing an award winning product, conceptualizing a new radical futuristic product and producing a 1-minute elevator talk radical multimedia presentation of that product, a 1 minute presentation to VCs, product design documents, and a microAPI for the product.
  • Deep dive into your selected product to produce a new radical revolutionary view of that product.
  • Design the radical product. In a small-group format, you will design a new radical product (possibly different from the earlier one). Your team will select for its design a highly innovative specific technology demo around a particular theme of interest (e.g., medical devices, home renovation, health, green energy, language and google mashups, ...). This design process will use the modern design and creativity tools we will cover in class. We may use the Unified Modeling Language for some design specifications.
  • Implement it. In the last 4 weeks of the course, you will build your radical product to pseudo-prototype stage. This will be demonstrated in a presentation at a class open-house near the end of the semester.
  • Generalize it. In the last week you will design a generative, micro-API based on your invention (see position paper) that takes your radical design in directions you never imagined.
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